Report: NCAA rule breakers could face NFL sanctions

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Warning: slippery slope ahead.

For those who are unaware, the NFL announced Thursday that former Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor is eligible for their supplemental draft that will be held this coming Monday.  One caveat: he will be suspended for the first five games of the NFL’s regular season, and will not be permitted to participate in either practice or games until the suspension is completed.  The reasoning behind the suspension, the NFL stated in its release, was that “Pryor had accepted at the end of the 2010 college football season a suspension for the first five games of the 2011 season for violating NCAA rules”, and that he had subsequently “undermine[d] the integrity of the eligibility rules for the NFL Draft” by “failing to cooperate with the NCAA” on their investigation into the OSU football program.

Based on one report, it appears the NFL may be hellbent on making such a thing the new norm when it comes to players bringing their college baggage into the pros.

Mike Freeman of CBS Sports.com writes that the NFL, “in conjunction with college football and the NFL Players Association, is considering a series of actions that would discipline players who are busted in college for violating NCAA rules, then skip to the pros unscathed.”  This will henceforth, of course, be known as the Reggie Bush Rule if adopted and survives what would certainly be a legal challenge by a player or players.

The punitive measures the NFL is considering, Freeman reports, include fining or suspending players who were found to have committed NCAA violations after they came to the NFL.  Any fines collected would go toward paying a school’s legal fees incurred by defending allegations of violations or to a scholarship fund.

In recent months, members of the NCAA, NFL, NFLPA and AFCA have all met to discuss ways they can help college football curb what appears to be escalating rule-breaking at that level.  Certainly the NCAA would be open to any and all help it can get, while the NFL will undoubtedly bend over backwards — how far as evidenced by the Pryor decision — to maintain their free farm system.  The AFCA, whose members consist of college football coaches, are also likely open to anything that would make it easier for their constituency to compete on a level playing field.

The NFLPA, however, may be a tougher nut to crack when it comes to cooperating for the good of the college game.  While the player’s association would have no problem in lending a hand with the agent/runner issue that still plagues the college game, they might buck at its membership being penalized by the NFL for something that occurred while in college.  Freeman, though, reports that the NFLPA is open to the dialogue currently being offered up by the NFL and the NCAA on this issue; how open the NFLPA may be is reflected by the fact the they reportedly signed off on Pryor’s suspension.

Even if the NFLPA hurdle is navigated, there could very well be legal obstacles to overcome.  In fact, there most certainly would be legal challenges.  While I applaud the NFL for its gesture, even as it’s far from altruistic, there appears to be a very slim chance this could ever come to fruition.

Of course, if the NCAA had subpoena power, none of this grandstanding by The Association’s football big brother would be necessary, but that’s another story for another day.

I do have one question, though: would the same standards that the NFL wants to apply to players also apply to coaches?  Let’s say, purely hypothetically of course, a coach were to abandon a Southern California college football program six months before near-historic sanctions were levied for a head-coaching job with a professional football club in the Northwest; would he be subject to the same type of NFL-mandated punishment as his players?

One would have to think that the NFL would most certainly want to hold its coaches to a higher standard than its players, right?

Ah yes, a slippery slope indeed…

Report: Baylor set to release information on sexual assault reports

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Apparently, transparency is no longer such a four-letter word in Waco.  Somewhat.

Citing a brief filed in court Friday by attorneys representing Baylor, the Waco Tribune is reporting that “[g]eneral information behind every alleged sexual assault reported to Baylor University since 2003 will soon be released by the school.” The university is currently in the process of putting together spreadsheets that will shed light on the incidents over the last decade and a half.

Per the Tribune, below are the parameters of the information that will be included in the spreadsheets.

  • Date of alleged assault
  • Date alleged assault was reported to Baylor employee
  • Whether alleged victim was Baylor student
  • Gender of alleged victim
  • Gender of alleged assailant
  • Whether Baylor knew the identity of alleged victim
  • Whether Baylor knew the identity of alleged assailant
  • Whether alleged victim asked Baylor to keep the alleged assailant’s identity confidential
  • Location of alleged assault
  • How Baylor learned of alleged assault
  • Specific offices or type of Baylor personnel who were made aware of alleged assault
  • Disposition of complaint

Information that appears will be noticeably absent?  Whether or not the assailants were Bears football players at the time..

In mid-May of this year, BU was served notice that it is being sued by a former BU volleyball player, only identified as “Jane Doe,” who claims that she was gang-raped by as many as eight then-Bears football players in 2012.  That was at least the seventh Federal Title IX lawsuit filed in connection to the sexual assault scandal that rocked the university and cost several high-profile officials their jobs, including head football coach Art Briles, nearly a year ago.

That latest filing came a little over two months after the Texas Rangers confirmed that it had commenced a preliminary investigation centered on how the university, the football program and campus police handled allegations of sexual assault made against student-athletes, most notably members of the football team.  The confirmation of that probe came a little over a month after details in one of the handful of federal lawsuits the university is facing emerged, with that suit alleging 31 Bears football players had committed 52 acts of rape over a period of four years beginning in 2011; in late March, BU sought to have that suit dismissed.

Outside of the federal lawsuits and Department of Education Title IX investigation, two former Bears football players have been convicted of sexual assault that were committed while they were members of the football team.  Several other players were accused of committing either sexual assault or violence — or both — while playing for Briles.

None of Briles’ assistants were dismissed along with the head coach as a result of the scandal even as an independent review into the football program’s handling of sexual assault accusations showed that “members of the Baylor coaching staff chose not to report incidents of sexual violence involving football players, [instead] meeting directly with those filing complaints of sexual abuse and handling their own investigations outside of university policy to discredit the complainants, thus denying them the right to a fair investigation by the university.”

In early February of this year, the Big 12 announced that it will withhold 25 percent of future revenue payments to BU, only releasing the monies “pending the outcome of third-party verification review of required changes to Baylor’s athletics procedures and to institutional governance of its intercollegiate athletics programs, among other matters.”

In the same brief filed late last week, the university again confirmed that it is the subject of “an ongoing, pending investigation” by the NCAA.

Florida makes signings of ex-Notre Dame QB Malik Zaire, former Clemson OL Jake Fruhmorgen official

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Two Power Five transfer players are officially Florida Gators.

Monday, the Gators confirmed that offensive lineman Jake Fruhmorgen and quarterback Malik Zaire have enrolled in classes at the university.  Zaire was given his unconditional release from Notre Dame in late November and, after awaiting the SEC’s tweaking of its graduate transfer policy, confirmed his move to UF earlier this month, while Fruhmorgen left Clemson in mid-January before two months later revealing that Gainesville would serve as his next college football home.

As Zaire is coming to the Gators as a grad transfer, he’ll be eligible to play immediately in 2017 and is looked upon as a potential, or even likely starter under center.  Fruhmorgen will have to sit out the 2017 season, but will then have two years of eligibility remaining beginning in 2018.

Zaire started three games during his time with the Fighting Irish — the first in the Music City Bowl win over LSU following the 2014 season then the first two games of the 2015 season before an ankle injury sidelined him for the remainder of the year.  He played in eight games last season as the backup to DeShone Kizer.

Fruhmorgen didn’t play another game last season after suffering a shoulder injury in late October. While the injury kept him out of a couple of games, he missed the latter quarter of the regular season, as well as the postseason, dealing with unspecified personal issues that kept him away from the team.

Prior to all of that, the true sophomore had started the first eight games of the 2016 season at right tackle.

A four-star 2015 signee, Fruhmorgen was rated by 247Sports.com as the No. 8 offensive tackle in the country and the No. 20 player at any position in the state of Florida. As a true freshman, the 6-5, 290-pound lineman played in 11 games, starting one of those contests.

WR T.J. Simmons transferring from Alabama to West Virginia

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A former Miami Hurricane wasn’t the only Power Five transfer West Virginia landed over the weekend.

On his personal Twitter account Sunday, T.J. Simmons surprised many by announcing that he would be transferring from Alabama. Not only that, but the wide receiver announced his new college football home — West Virginia.

After sitting out the 2017 season, Simmons will have three years of eligibility remaining with the Mountaineers.

A three-star member of the Crimson Tide’s 2016 recruiting class, Simmons was rated as the No. 58 receiver in the country and the No. 9 player at any position in the state of Alabama. While he played in 12 games as a true freshman, mainly on special teams, he caught six passes for 82 yards and a touchdown in this year’s spring game.

In addition to Simmons, former Miami tight end Jovani Haskins announced Saturday he would be transferring to WVU as well. All told, four Power Five players have come to Morgantown this offseason — those two, plus former Syracuse defensive back Corey Winfield (HERE) and ex-Miami quarterback Jack Allison (HERE).

Meanwhile, In Tuscaloosa, Simmons has joined linebacker Shawn Jennings (HERE) and O.J. Smith (HERE) as transfers away from UA in the last month. As 247Sports.com noted, that trio of transfers gets the Tide down to 86 scholarship players, one above the 85-man limit.

East Carolina mourns loss of former Pirate Domonique Lennon in fatal shooting

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The extended Eastern Carolina football family is in mourning following the passing of one of their own.

Over the weekend, Domonique Lennon was shot and killed following an incident outside of a Raleigh, NC restaurant. He was just 24 years old.

Witnesses described hearing upwards of 15 gunshots, with police arriving at 9:45 p.m. Friday night. No suspect or suspects are in custody as police continue to investigate the fatal shooting, which they believe involved more than one shooter.

It’s unknown if Lennon was the target or just caught up in the crossfire.

Lennon played defensive back for the Pirates from 2011-15. He played in 26 games his last two seasons with ECU, starting 14 of those contests in 2014.

“East Carolina University, the athletics department and Pirate football program are saddened by the tragic passing of Domonique Lennon,” a statement from the school began. “He made a positive impact on many people during his time as a student-athlete at ECU and earned the respect of both his teammates and coaches. We extend our condolences to Domonique’s family, friends and all those who knew and loved him.”

A GoFundMe page has been set up to help start a college fund for Lennon’s young son Landon. You can reach it by clicking HERE.